I love The Food Network. I don't watch it all the time, but I do have a few favorites whose shows I watch for recipe ideas and tips on cooking. One of them is Giada de Laurentiis, or, as we like to refer to her in our house, The Boob Lady. (Seriously, the lady has some impressive curves)
In 2007, Evan and Elisabeth bought me this cook book for Mother's Day:
Oh my goodness, I do so love this cookbook. I read it cover to cover the day I got it. Not only is it filled with amazing pasta recipes, Giada has soooo many excellent tips about pastas--how to cook them, different flavors, different varities--and gives a summary of the meal and even what sides would compliment them.
Today's recipe that I will be sharing from her cookbook is one I'd never tried before. Now, I have tried quite a few of them, and there hasn't been one yet that we haven't loved. The recipe calls for the pasta ditalini, but I had a heck of a time finding it at my grocery store. Thankfully, before I shop, I read my recipes thoroughly, and this one was no exception. Giada said that with this recipe, she likes all of the ingredients to be the same size. So, knowing that ditalini is a relatively small pasta (cause I googled it), I substituted the ditalini with mini penne. And? It was perfectly delicious!
So, let's make it!!!
3 Tbsp. olive oil; 1 small onion, finely chopped; 1 pound mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and finely chopped; 1 tsp. plus 3/4 tsp. salt; 1 C. dry Marsala wine; 1/2 pound frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (but I used one can, drained); 1/2 C. heavy cream (but I used half & half); 1 pound ditalini or other small, thimble-shaped pasta, such as penneti; 3/4 C. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (but I cheated); 1/2 C. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley; 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper.
I started with my chopping first. So, I chopped my onion up.
Then I started on my mushrooms.
Did you know that you're supposed to clean mushrooms by gently scrubbing them with a wet paper towel and not under running water? Oh, you did? Well, you're so smart!
I poured some oil into my hot skillet and let it get warm.
While the oil was warming, I started boiling my water for the pasta.
Once the oil was hot (which I check by putting my hand OVER the skillet and seeing if heat waves hit it. I never put my hand IN the oil because that would be stupid), I dumped in my onions and cooked them for about 3 minutes, until they were soft and tender.
Then I dumped in my mushrooms
and a teaspoon of salt.
Stir them together until the mushrooms are cooked down, which was about 5 minutes or so for me.
Once the onions and mushrooms were happily cooked, I added the Marsala wine.
Now, this will need to simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Maybe 10 minutes or so.
Now, since we're still waiting for the water to boil, I started getting the last of the ingredients ready for my sauce. I drained the artichokes and patted them dry.
Then I cut them all length wise. You are more than welcome to cut yours up more, but they'll fall apart once they are stirred into the sauce.
I measured my half & half.
And then, once the Marsala wine had pretty much evaporated to my liking, I added both ingredients.
Now they will simmer with the other ingredients for another 5 minutes or so.
I got the final ingredients ready. I measured 1/2 a cup of un-chopped parsley.
And then chopped it. I find it easier to do this way, because then I am not wasting any parsley.
Oh my goodness, it took FOREVER for my water to boil. In fact, I had to take my sauce off the burner because I was scared of over cooking it, moved my pot of water to the big burner and cranked it so the ding-dong water would boil already! Then I dumped my pasta in. I cooked it about 7 minutes.
Once it was cooked al dente, I drained the pasta, moved my sauce back on to a low-medium heat, and dumped the pasta on top.
Then I added the pepper, parsley and parmesan cheese and stirred gently until it was all mixed in nicely.
Ooh...look at it. Can you smell it? Oh, you can't? Well you should make it just to smell it, cause it is lovely, I tell you. Lovely!
Look at how the mushrooms, onions and parsley are sticking to the pasta. Look how the cheese melted. Mmmmm....
Evan is a giant fan of tomato sauces, so he's always a little skeptical when I put pasta on the table with nothing red to put on top of it. But, after he ate this, he reported that it was indeed delicious and needed no red sauce. And he's right. The flavors were all so subtle (so that no one was over powering) but you could taste all of them. I would change nothing about this recipe and will definitely be making it again.
Oh, and when reheated, it tastes just as good!!!
I will probably share more of Giada's recipes from this cookbook over time, but I highly encourage you to check it out yourself. It has some of the most simple pasta recipes that are delicious!!! It is definitely in my top three favoritest cook books!